All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

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Seth Godin's three essential questions for every marketer: "What's you story?" "Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?" "Is it true?" All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that's virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better--and look cooler--than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it ...
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Overview

Seth Godin's three essential questions for every marketer: "What's you story?" "Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?" "Is it true?" All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that's virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better--and look cooler--than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true. As Seth Godin showed in this controversial book, great marketers don't talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story--a story we want to believe, whether it's factual or not. In a world where most people have an infinite number of choices and no time to make them, every organization is a marketer, and all marketing is about telling stories. Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner, or Fiji water or the iPod. But beware: If your stories are inauthentic, you cross the line from fib to fraud. Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. That's a lesson learned the hard way by telemarketers, cigarette companies, and sleazy politicians. But for the rest of us, it's time to embrace the power of the story. As Godin writes, "Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea. Marketers didn't invent storytelling. They just perfected it."
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Seth Godin advises marketers that what matters is not the quality of their goods but the good feelings generated by their "storytelling." In our complicated, cynical world, we all want to hear a story that we can believe; a story that fits our worldview; a story that we intuitive embrace and then share with our friends. If the story grabs us on a deep gut level, Godin insists, it doesn't matter that it contains a little white lie. In All Marketers Are Liars, the author of Purple Cow describes the difference between marketing campaigns that work and those that fail.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
The Power Of Telling Authentic Stories In A Low-Trust World
The biggest lie that master marketer Seth Godin tells in All Marketers Are Liars is the name of his book. He explains that all marketers are not, in fact, liars: They are merely storytellers. The liars, he writes, are the consumers who lie to themselves every day about what they wear, where they live, how they vote and what they do to work. Godin explains that successful marketers are just the providers of the stories that consumers choose to believe. A good story that satisfies customers is the source of a company's growth and profit. What it takes to make it work, Godin writes, is a "complete dedication to and embrace of your story."

Stories are necessary to help consumers deal with the deluge of information they face every day, Godin writes, and truly great stories "succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences." A great story, he adds, is true, makes a promise, is trusted, is subtle, happens fast, and often appeals to our senses. Great stories don't contradict themselves, and they match our worldview by agreeing with what we already believe.

Successful Marketing
All Marketers Are Liars is organized around a five-step process that people go through when they encounter successful marketing. These steps are:

Step 1: Their worldview and frames got there before you did. A consumer's worldview (the combination of his or her current rules, beliefs and biases) affects the way he or she notices things and understands them. If a story is framed in terms of that worldview, the consumer is more likely to believe it. Smart marketers, Godin explains, don't try to change someone's worldview. Instead, they identify a group of people with a certain worldview and frame their story in terms of that worldview. Since people of similar worldviews "clump together," successful marketers find a previously undiscovered clump and frame a story in the words, images and interactions that reinforce these people's biases.

Step 2: People only notice the new and then make a guess. Consumers notice things when they change. As soon as they notice something new, they start making guesses about what to expect next.

Step 3: First impressions start the story. A first impression causes the consumer to make a fast, permanent judgment about what he or she was just exposed to. Godin explains that "almost every important buying decision is made instantaneously. These snap decisions affect everything we do, and we'll bend over backward to defend them later."

Step 4: Great marketers tell stories we believe. A story changes the way the consumer experiences a product or service. Consumers make a prediction about what will happen next and rationalize anything that does not match the prediction. Godin writes that "authentic marketing, from one human to another, is extremely powerful." Consumers and marketers win when the marketer tells a story authentically and the company creates a product or service that does what the marketer says it will do.

Step 5: Marketers with authenticity thrive. Godin writes, "The authenticity of the story determines whether it will survive scrutiny long enough for the consumer to tell the story to other people." No marketing succeeds if it cannot find an audience that already wants to believe the story being told.

Great Stories
According to Godin, there are only two things these days that separate success from failure in most organizations: Inventing stuff worth talking about and telling stories about what you've invented. The difficult job of making up great stories is the imperative of today.

Marketers cannot use just any story, Godin explains. The only stories that work and spread are those that demand to be repeated. By being authentic and remarkable, the story will be believed. Godin advises marketers to just tell the best story they can imagine.

For example, Godin cites Little Miss Match as one of his favorite small companies. It sells more than 134 styles of socks to preteen girls, but none of the sets are matched (or clash). The story the company tells is framed in terms of the preteen mind-set: The colorful, mismatched socks give girls something to show their friends and demonstrate their hipness. When a girl shows off her cool socks, she's hip. Then the idea spreads to other girls who never had the "I want to be edgy" mind-set. This makes the story work.

Godin writes, "Make your story bigger and bigger until it's important enough to believe."

Why We Like This Book
In All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin picks up where his bestselling Purple Cow left off, digging even deeper into the concept of making remarkable products and services, and explaining the need for effective storytelling in successful marketing. With a distinct voice and a clever wit, Godin develops a clear case for using focused psychology to improve marketing. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591841005
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/19/2005
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.82 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2005

    Surprising insights, but repetitive

    Marketers are always on a quest to discover the new best way to sell products. Author and marketing guru Seth Godin takes a slightly skewed look at the marketing principle of positioning and renames it 'storytelling.' In doing so, he redefines a market segment as a community with a shared worldview, and a marketing campaign as a story framed to fit that worldview. The idea is provocative. By tweaking the conventional approach to advertising, Godin gives marketers a new angle, backed up by enlightening case studies. At times the book is simplistic and repetitive, and it never fully gets into the meat of how to create and disseminate a marketing story. Still, Godin will intrigue you as he explains that purchases are driven by desire, not need, and that clever storytelling is better at whetting a purchaser¿s desires than an old-fashioned ad campaign. We recommend his practical marketing advice with its unorthodox approach to charming the cash right out of the customer¿s wallet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2005

    ...it's an amazing book!

    'All Marketers are Liars' is one of the best books I've read this year. Seth Godin is highly entertaining, witty and funny as he takes you on a journey through the world of business storytelling!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2005

    Seth Godin Is A Dirty, Rotten Liar! (Not Really)

    Seth Godin is the kind of character and author that you either love - or love to hate. I find myself happily in the first camp. I find his view of the world and of marketing to be refreshing and insightful. I have always walked away from a personal encounter with Seth having learned something new and having been encouraged to think about familiar things in new and different ways. The same holds true for his books. I have devoured Purple Cow, Free Prize Inside, Permission Marketing, Unleashing the IdeaVirus. His new book has just been released to bookstores. All Marketers Are Liars (The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World) stands on the shoulders of his previous books and builds the case for storytelling being at the heart of all marketing activities. And for Seth, the medium is often a crucial part of the message. Packaging is part of the story. Ergo, limited editions of Purple Cow came packed inside purple and white half gallon milk cartons. Free Prize Inside was sold inside a cereal box. All Marketers Are Liars features a picture of Seth Godin looking strangely like the love child of Pinocchio and Cyrano de Bergerac! The deliberately arresting and provocative title of the book makes Seth's point succinctly. In telling us the title of his book - he is telling us a lie. The book is not really about the fact that marketers lie (although some do). It is about the fact that consumers tell themselves lies all the time to justify buying what they want rather than what they truly need. We tell ourselves stories about the products and services we desire. And the successful marketer finds ways to control the storytelling process. 'Stories let us lie to ourselves. And those lies satisfy our desires. It's the story, not the good or the service you actually sell, that pleases the consumer.' (p. 84) The heart of Seth's argument can be found in this pithy statement: 'Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and then share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner or the iPod.' Every marketer, sales person and business executive should read this book and then engage in some healthy reflection and self-analysis. Every consumer should read it to gain better understanding about what moves us to want and then to buy the things that we acquire. I enjoyed this book. No lie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2005

    Hat Trick

    All Marketers Are Liars completes the Seth Godin marketing hat trick begun with Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside. We all like being told stories (lies) from the time we are children. As kids, we want to believe in the magic and hope that fairy tales and fables bring us. As adults, we still need to believe in the power of magic, of things having exceptional qualities. Marketing stories/lies give us that magic. They take what is unique about a product/business (Purple Cow) and combine it with its extra benefits (Free Prize Inside) to create a story that we understand on an emotional level. Once a product/business has a strong lie, it can connect with its customer quicker and more efficently. I would strongly recommend this book especially for small business owners who are having to act as their own marketing directors. You will come away with an direction for you marketing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2005

    I really enjoyed this book!

    I picked up this book, strictly for the title as I have always thought myself to be a marketer's nightmare and thought this book would be humorous. I don't buy anything because of the brand name and the few branded things I do buy are only bought because I have used them and they have proven their worth to me. So, I picked up All Marketers Are Liars, expecting it to trash marketing gimmicks. Boy was I surprised to find that I am not the nightmare I thought myself to be. Godin's theory of storytelling as opposed to advertising is right on the money. While reading his book, I realized that I, too, have been hooked by the good stories and it opened my eyes a little more to marketing ploys that I hadn't even paid any thought to. Godin's examples of product story telling are very interesting. I really enjoyed this book!

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